Hentland Church is one of the oldest in the deanery of Ross and Archenfield, the latter name being that of the British Kingdom of roughly the same area, known in Welsh as Erging, the area called by the Romans Ariconium. Although the main part of the church dates from the 13th and 14th centuries, part of the north wall is dated around 1050, the time of Edward the Confessor. There is strong evidence that long before that, Hentland (Henlann = hen llan, old church) was a thriving community as far back as the 4th and 5th centuries A.D.
The church itself is built of local sandstone, the chancel, nave and north aisle being the oldest parts. They were partially rebuilt in the 15th century by Richard of Rotherham, Vicar of Lugwardine and Chancellor of the diocese, and during the same period the tower was added, and possibly the one medieval bell was installed. It is also believed that he inserted the figures in the window behind the main Altar, which is an interesting example of the Herefordshire type of three-stepped lancet lights. On the north wall of the Sanctuary is a stone credence-table, and opposite, in the window, is a piscina.
The intricately carved chair in the Sanctuary is Jacobean. The other chair dates from the 18th century.
The pulpit is 17th century, although restored,
and the screen between the nave and chancel is mainly 19th century; it incorporates some 15th century work in the posts, mullions, and heads to the open upper panels. The poppy heads on the choir-stalls are early 16th century.
The windows in the south wall are of the 14th century, and between the two at the back is a blocked-up doorway circa 1300,
which is hidden on the outside by a buttress and chimney. In this recess stand the remains of an early 18th century
sepulchral monument with two blank shields. In the sides of the doorway are the hinges and holes for a
large wooden bar bolt. The octagonal font is late 15th or early 16th century, being decorated with two primitive heads,
fleurons and rosettes. The north doorway dates from around 1300, but the porch is 19th century, probably put up by the Rev.
The tower remains nearly as it was, with its one medieval bell, the remaining three being cast around 1628. The present bell housing dates from the 17th century. Unfortunately, the tower needs strengthening before the bells can be rung; this is a major work to be done when finance is available.In the north aisle is a 17th century chest with its original lock plate and an unusual modern (1920) wheeled bier. Both these were recently restored by the Craft Department of the John Kyrle School in Ross-on-Wye.
The churchyard has many interesting old gravestones and monuments dating from the 18th century, with a few earlier sepulchral inscriptions inside the church, on the floor of the aisles. The most interesting is the ancient Cross just outside the church door. It originates from the 14th century but it was severely damaged in the religious arguments of the 17th century. Restored afterwards, the faces are now hardly recognisable, but they are:West: the Crucifix with St. Mary and St. John.East: the Madonna and Child.
South: a Cleris (probably St. Teilo).North: a bishop with a mitre (St. Dubricius).Whilst not unique, it is unusual in the British Isles to find these ancient crosses, with their effigies, in their original positions, for Cromwell's Puritans dealt with them severely.The yew trees in the churchyard are very old. The one by the gate into the lane, was planted on Shrove Tuesday,
13th February 1615, according to the parish registers.
Hopefully, over the next few years, with the help of those who visit the church, and the efforts of those of us who live nearby and all who value our heritage, we can restore Hentland Church to its former position.Remember those who over the centuries have loved this place, and worshipped their Lord and God here.
Prayer for the feast of St. Dyfrig (14th November):
Grant, Lord, that as the blessed abbot and bishop, Dyfrig, laboured in his care for many churches, left all to seek you in solitude,so may we combine devotion to duty with frequent renewal, in holy recollection and prayer. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, in majesty, for ever and ever. Amen.